Édouard Manet - The Races in the Bois de Boulogne 1872

Berthe Morisot with a Fan 1872 Bouquet of violets 1872 Brunette with bare breasts 1872 The Races in the Bois de Boulogne 1872 View of Holland 1872 A Good Glass of Beer 1873 Boats Coming Ashore 1873
The Races in the Bois de Boulogne 1872

The Races in the Bois de Boulogne 1872
73x92cm oil/canvas
J. H. Whitney collection

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From Sotheby’s:
Les Courses au Bois de Boulogne is one of Manet's most beautiful and striking images. The deep aquamarine color of the grass track and the infield against which we see the horses and spectators is a bold and appealing pictorial conceit. Moreover, it signals the artist's emphasis on the abstract characteristics of the composition as a whole. Manet's slightly elevated vantage point causes the ground plane to seem to tilt toward the picture plane. The result is a strong emphasis on the rich and varied character of the surface of the painting. The viewer's eye is drawn to the inherent beauty of the paint itself, whether in the broad expanse of the variegated aquamarine field that occupies the lower half of the canvas, or in such details as the jockeys' uniforms, the sheen of the horses' coats, the umbrellas in the lower right foreground, and the groups of glyph-like spectators who seem to pay homage to the figures in Goya's bullfight compositions. This remarkable work is at one stylistically advanced, visually daring, and, considering its date, astonishingly modern.
In 1872 Parisians would have found a sunny day at the races in the Bois de Boulogne especially welcome, because memories of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and the violent civil upheaval known as The Commune (1871) were still fresh. The pleasure of a day at the races would not have been taken for granted, and for some it would have offered reassurance that life had begun to return to normal during the first year of the Third Republic.